Kies de Nederlandse taal
Course module: 202200313
Electrocatalysis: Materials and Spectroscopy
Course info
Course module202200313
Credits (ECTS)5
Course typeCourse
Language of instructionEnglish
Contact G. Katsoukis
dr. M. Altomare
dr. C. Baeumer
Examiner G. Katsoukis
Contactperson for the course G. Katsoukis
Academic year2022
Starting block
Application procedureYou apply via OSIRIS Student
Registration using OSIRISYes

This course provides fundamental knowledge on electrocatalysis, including materials, reaction pathways and spectroscopic characterization techniques that help understand and identify reaction mechanisms and key electrocatalyst design principles. We prepare students for performing research on electrocatalysis and electrochemical reactions, both in industry and academia.  

At the end of the course, you will be able to: 
Fundamentals of electrocatalysis 

  • Use your toolset to analyze electrocatalytic reactions according to best research practices and compare new materials and processes to benchmarks in the field  
  • Use field-specific terminology including activity, stability, selectivity, turn-over frequency 
  • Understand and rationalize with volcano plots and electronic structure descriptors to predict activity trends and design new electrocatalysts  
  • Discuss exemplary reaction mechanisms  
  • Understand why surface composition and structure, morphology (e.g., particle size) and support materials can influence the electrocatalytic performance  


Electrocatalytic reactions 

  • Discuss individual steps, overall reaction mechanisms, limiting steps and material choice for the electrocatalysis of:  
  • Hydrogen evolution reaction  
  • Oxygen evolution and oxygen reduction reaction  
  • CO2 reduction reaction  


Properties of materials 

  • Relate the electrocatalytic activity to the electronic structure  
  • Predict material stability based on Pourbaix diagrams  


Characterization of Electrocatalytic Materials 

  • Assess the performance of electrocatalysts using classic electro-analytical techniques (e.g., cyclic voltammetry CV, linear sweep voltammetry LSV, stripping voltammetry, chronoamperometry CA, rotating disk electrode RDE, rotating ring-disk electrode RRDE, etc.) 
  • Interpret or predict the performance of electrocatalysts through characterization techniques based on X-rays 
  • X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy 
  • X-ray absorption spectroscopy  
  • Interpret or predict the performance of electrocatalysts through characterization techniques based on infrared light 
  • Infrared spectroscopy 
  • Discuss the limitations of the mentioned spectroscopic techniques and analyze spectroscopic data of these techniques 
  • Derive and evaluate design principles of operando cells for these techniques (which enable spectroscopy measurements while the reactions are running) 


Scientific attitude and evaluation skills 

  • Discuss, present, and evaluate the use of these techniques in current scientific literature  
  • Discuss, present, and evaluate findings regarding electrocatalyst properties, design, and reaction mechanisms.  
  • Identify key-messages, strengths, and weaknesses in current scientific literature 
The current (petro)chemical industry uses non-renewable feedstock, such as methane (natural gas), oil, and coal, which have a large carbon footprint causing negative effects on climate and on our health. In the last decades, however, the remarkable drop in price of renewable solar and wind electricity, has placed electrochemistry and electrocatalysis in the spotlight as an environmentally friendly approach to drive chemical reactions. Electrocatalytic processes can become highly relevant e.g. in the generation of hydrogen by conversion of water, and of other green chemicals and fuels utilizing CO2 or N2 as additional feedstock Therefore, green electrocatalytic processes are expected to make an ever-increasing impact on increasing the sustainability of the chemical industry, energy, mobility and hence in our everyday life. For this, deeper understanding and further improvement of current and emerging electrochemical conversion processes is needed. 

The future of our energy supply must rely on technological breakthroughs that enable a sustainable conversion of highly abundant molecules, e.g., water, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen, into fuels and chemicals for industry and agriculture, for example in the form of hydrogen, hydrocarbons, or ammonia. Electrocatalysis has the highest potential in playing a key role in a clean, secure, and affordable energy future, because renewable electricity through wind, photovoltaics, and hydropower, is becoming abundant and affordable. In this course, we discuss the electrochemical hydrogen evolution reaction, oxygen evolution reaction, and CO2 reduction reaction – the three most important reactions in electrocatalytic energy conversion and chemical synthesis. We will outline, at a fundamental level, the design criteria for state-of-the-art and future electrocatalyst materials for efficient water splitting and CO2 conversion. We first cover state-of-the-art electrochemical characterization and benchmarking techniques and will explore reaction mechanisms and activity descriptors. Then, we will elucidate how X-ray- and Infrared-based spectroscopy can be used to study chemical reactions at electrode surfaces. Students will have the possibility to use case studies related to operando spectroscopic characterization (i.e., under operating conditions) to learn about current research activities. Areas of focus will be on how surface composition, electronic structure, and adsorbate coverage, among other factors, affect the electrocatalytic activity. 
Assumed previous knowledge
• Fundamental physical chemistry
• General material-light interaction
• Electronic structure of materials
• Electrochemistry fundamentals

Courses at the UT that cover these concepts sufficiently are:
• “Electrochemistry: techniques and fundamentals” (M-CSE) Osiris course code 201800014
• “Electrochemical Engineering” (M-CSE) Osiris course code 201800326
• “Electrochemistry” (B-CSE) Osiris course code 202000732

If unclear, talk to the docents to evaluate if you meet the requirements.
Participating study
Master Chemical Engineering
Required materials
Recommended materials
Recent scientific literature
Instructional modes
Presence dutyYes

Electrocatalysis: Materials and Spectroscopy

literature example about electrochemistry or spectroscopy aspects, including a discussion of the necessary theory

Kies de Nederlandse taal